Sanitary Robots Replace Unsanitary Food Workers

Thousands of consumers are sickened every year by fecal bacteria. One way to reduce fecal contamination is to reduce the number of people handling our food – because all it takes to contaminate an entire batch is one worker not washing their hands after using the toilet. Here’s news from two American manufacturers about new machine designed to to prevent product contamination … 

TAUNTON, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Harpak-ULMA today introduces the ULMA FS-400 Flow wrapper, conceived specifically for the fresh poultry and meat packaging market segment.

The FS-400 produces cost-effective packaging for raw food products that often vary in both size and shape.

It represents a new alternative to formerly patented packaging technologies designed to produce leak-proof trayed products, optimized for attractive retail presentation. Prior to recent patent expirations, producers faced limited supplier options.

The formerly patented packaging technologies available today continue to utilize an all-box format frame with multiple electrical and mechanical cabinets, as well as exposed components.

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This dated design makes component access time-consuming and requires extensive cleaning to prevent product contamination.

Simplified sanitary design

The FS-400 flow pack solution dramatically improves on this 20-year old design. Instead, it employs a modern cantilever design that allows easy access to all components of the infeed conveyer, sealing rollers, and cross sealing assemblies.

This simplified sanitary design also employs a single mechanical cabinet for motors and drive components, as well as a single electrical cabinet. … For more information, contact Mary Ahlfeld at [email protected]

“Taylor Farms, one of the world’s largest producers and sellers of fresh-cut vegetables, … recently unveiled a fleet of robots designed to replace humans — one of the agriculture industry’s latest answers to a diminishing supply of immigrant labor. The smart machines can assemble 60 to 80 salad bags a minute, double the output of a worker.”  – New York Times, Nov. 20, 2018

N.J. blueberry farm workers pollute groundwater

Inspectors found “human waste draining into the groundwater — often just a couple of hundred feet from where the blueberries grew.”

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August 8, 2019

Philadelphia Inquirer – Last month Feliciano Sandoval pulled up to the giant housing shed at the Merlino Brothers blueberry farm in Hammonton and spotted a woman parked in an unfamiliar car.

“Federales,” Sandoval, a crew supervisor, would later say, the term migrant workers use for any government agent.

Through the car’s open window, she told him others were coming.

Soon, she and three other inspectors headed into the sheet-metal shed, packed with bunk beds that in peak season accommodated 50 to 100 migrant workers, all without indoor toilets, running water, or fire sprinklers.

“They went inside as if they had a marching order,” said Sandoval, a Mexican native who has been working in South Jersey’s blueberry fields for three decades. Outside, they examined water sources, the bank of portable latrines, and the kitchen barn.

They weren’t federal agents, rather a team of inspectors from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the Atlantic County Health Department. In mid-July they swept into Merlino Brothers Farm and seven other Hammonton farms in the “Blueberry Capital of the World” and cited six of them for breaking New Jersey’s Water Pollution Control Act.

Merlino Brothers Farm and four others were found to have septic systems that were either malfunctioning or overflowing, failing to capture the daily sewage — more than 2,000 gallons of filthy water, cooking grease, detergent and even human waste draining into the groundwater — often just a couple of hundred feet from where the blueberries grew.

The recent violations reveal a negligent farming practice that has been going on for years, maybe decades, at some of New Jersey’s 51 commercial blueberry farms.

The Inquirer’s reporting also found that local, county, and state government agencies may have missed or ignored signs that some of the state’s farms have illegally set up migrant housing camps, potentially harming workers as well as the thousands of consumers who eat the berries.

“They are trying to cut corners and save money and at the same time they are polluting the environment … ” Read more. 

Image: Blueberries ready for harvest – Delaware, UDel Carvel REC, CC BY 2.0

“One Harv [a robotic berry harvester developed in Florida] is programmed to do the work of 30 people. The machine hovers over a dozen rows of plants at the same time, picking five strawberries every second and covering eight acres a day.” – Washington Post, Feb 17, 2019

Robot replacing berry pickers 

The 8040 single drop blueberry harvester gently conveys the fruit through a cleaning system to the back of the machine where it is placed into a lug or tote.

The open harvester design provides the driver excellent visibility while picking. For softer field conditions, Oxbo offers an optional high-flotation tire to power the machine through the toughest of conditions.

The Total Control Joystick puts all major machine functions at your finger tips.

The 8040 is available with Dynarotor, Orbirotor or Sway picking systems.

Oxbo backs every Model 8040 with local parts and service, both through dealers and through Oxbo facilities.


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